In The Name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful
Home : About ICNA : Chapter Locator : Contact Us

ICNA NE Convention in Hartford Draws Thousands

04 9 14



Muhammad ﷺ: Mercy to Mankind
By Tahir Ali, Hartford, CT – 4/07/2014
Despite biting cold that penetrated to the bone, nearly five thousand Muslims gathered from New York to Chicago at the Hartford Convention center to attend the first ICNA-MAS North East Convention.

In his welcome speech, Waqar Haider, president of the ICNA Northeast region, said it took six months of planning to organize and successfully implement an event at this scale.

“This is 99 percent volunteer based,” said Haider. “Everyone you see wearing a volunteer tag on their coat, that is really a badge of honor.”

Naeem Baig, president of ICNA, highlighted the theme of the convention: Muhammad ﷺ: Mercy to Mankind.

Naeem Baig, president of ICNA, highlighted the theme of the convention: Muhammad ﷺ: Mercy to Mankind.

Naeem Baig, president of ICNA, highlighted the theme of the convention: Muhammad ﷺ: Mercy to Mankind. He spoke of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as the role model to emulate and stressed the need to become involved with social issues such as hunger and poverty.

“We Muslim Americans are generally resourceful and we need to give back to the society,” said Baig. “Prophet Muhammad, through his service to mankind, uplifted hearts and minds and guided souls.”

Baig spoke of the 40 ICNA chapters around the United States which engage with their communities and work on various fronts, such as providing women shelters and running “Back to School” projects.

In the first main session, Imam Suhaib Webb started with a verse from Surah Al-Anbiya: “And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” [Quran 21: 107]

In the first main session, Imam Suhaib Webb started with a verse from Surah Al-Anbiya: “And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” [Quran 21: 107]

In the first main session, Imam Suhaib Webb started with a verse from Surah Al-Anbiya: “And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” [Quran 21: 107]

Reflecting on his days as a student, the Imam said that his teacher of hadith started by saying “This is the first hadith any beginner should learn from his or her shaykh,” and narrated, “‘The merciful ones – the Merciful is merciful to them.” The first hadith a student seeking sincere knowledge is taught is itself an exhortation to be merciful.

“The scholarly tradition embodied this mercy,” said Imam Webb. “And interestingly enough, the chain of this narration started from Iraq, to Damascus, to Egypt, to the Hejaz, to India, back to Egypt, back to the Hejaz and now to America – Allahu akbar.”

Imam Webb characterized the task of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as the bringer of glad tidings and the warner. “He is the Warner. Perhaps the greatest type of mercy that can be exercised is to save someone from sin, to bring someone out of the doldrums of vice. To take someone from shirk to tawheed,” he said. “When Rustam of Persia asked the Bedouin why had he come, he replied, ‘We came to bring people from the worship of creation to worship of the creator.’”

The Imam gave an example of rahma as a responsibility. The Prophet dealt with a person who did rukuh in a doorway by telling him, “May Allah reward you for your enthusiasm, but don’t do it again.” Contextualizing it, he said, the Prophet ﷺ didn’t go write a blog about the man who wrongly made rukuh in a doorway.

He concluded his session by reflecting on the position of rahma between irresponsible liberalism and irrational conservatism. He said he found it problematic when people made fun of conservative Muslims – the person with a big beard, or someone wearing ankle high pants – when they are following valid opinions.

“Moving forward as communities, as masajids, as institutions,” he said, “we need to recognize that rahma means to embrace the larger community as it is, neither should make fun of the other.”

In another session, Qasim Mazhar, an Islamic youth activist for more than 10 years, shared his thoughts on “Why Muslims love the Prophet”.

“Love requires action,” said Mazhar. “The legacy that the Prophet ﷺ left us is a legacy of helping other people. Live the life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. His life was filled with action not rhetoric.”

Mazhar mentioned the five golden statements Hadhrat Khadija radi Allahu anha, may God be pleased with her, used to convince the Prophet ﷺ after he had received the first revelation that he truly was the chosen messenger. 1 – You are the one who maintains family ties 2 – You are the one who take care of the poor and needy 3 – Whenever you speak you always speak the truth 4 – When you find them in stress or calamity you elevate them and 5 – You honor the guest when you have a guest over.

“And that is why we love our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ” concluded Mazhar.

In his session, Shaykh Abdool Rahman Khan, chairman of the Shari’ah Council of ICNA, articulated how the Prophet ﷺ was a messenger of peace. “His seerah, history of life, illustrates how he brought peace and yet the media distorts his image,” he said.

Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda, founder and director of Qalam Institute, continued on a similar vein. He said, regardless of what others said about the Prophet ﷺ , he was defended by Allah. He was told to ignore people like Abu Lahab.

Shaykh Jangda gave an account of a time when the Prophet was asked to deliver the message to the people and little Quran had been revealed. “He ﷺ was told, “Before you deal with people you should open their minds and hearts,” said Shaykh Jangda.

Throughout the convention there were numerous workshop and parallel sessions during which scholars and others covered various aspects of the Prophet ﷺ. Shaykh Uthman, Imam of the Worcester Islamic Center, spoke on the Prophet ﷺ in the light of his attributes as the truthful and the trustworthy. Imam Taymullah reflected upon the physical characteristics of the Prophet ﷺ, and Ustad Baajor walked through the manners and dealings of the Prophet ﷺ.

On another panel, Dr. Saud Anwar, the first Muslim mayor in Connecticut of South Windsor, talked about the leadership qualities of the Prophet ﷺ . Suzy Ismail, author of 9 to 5, spoke of the charter of Medina and the exemplary justice of the Prophet ﷺ it highlighted. Malika Rushdan explained the manner in which the Prophet ﷺ conducted da’wah through social services.

In a separate sisters session, Farhana Mateen, Sobia Saleem, Huma Shams and Sumaira Afzal led a lively panel discussion about “Walking on the Illuminated Path”.

Near the end of the conference, Imam Omar Suleiman spoke of the need to bridge the gap between generations. “Elders deserve a level of respect – do not compromise that respect,” he said. Elders also have to validate the youth. Reason with them – speak their language – validate them.

Overall, Haider was glad about the success of the conference. “All this is possible if you have a great team and good team work,” he said. “We all do this for the sake of Allah”

Photo Credit: Ahmed Mazumder


  • T. Shahab .

    Islam will live and flourish among us until we love the Prophet and strive to embrace his philosophy and work ethics. Muslim Americans deserve congratulation for their very successful convention. Interactions among community members and attending the invited scholarly talks are ample proof of a robust thriving Islamic culture in USA. Jazakallah!

  • gmeades

    Interesting how the convention glossed over and totally overlooked so many unmerciful aspects of Muhammad’s life, beginning with his very first action as a religious leader where he and his followers marched from Mecca to Medina to slaughter those who had previously disagreed with him.

    It’s interesting how the convention neglected to mention even one direction given in over 52% of the Qur’an which directs followers of Islam to hunt, maim, murder, kill, and subjugate anyone who does not follow Islam, or any of the numerous verses which specify followers of Islam are to hate, kill, and force to convert to Islam anyone who is Jewish or Christian specifically, or be murdered.

    It’s interesting that no one at the convention mentioned how Islam condones the abuse and oppression of women, the stoning and murder of homosexuals, and female genital mutilation.

    It’s interesting that the version of Islam that was being spoken of at the convention is so far removed from the Islam that is written about in the Qur’an itself, is taught in a large percentage of Mosques in this country and around the world, and practiced in the majority of households who adhere to and follow the teachings of Islam worldwide.

    Listening to what was spoken of at this particular convention, one might begin to get the idea that someone was trying to deceive those who are not aware of what Islam is actually about for the purpose of infiltrating, indoctrinating, and gaining acceptance by those who are unaware and have never actually read the Qur’an for themselves, or ever read any biography of Mohammed, or learned of any actual history of the large number of Islamic conquests which have occurred over the past 1400 or so years, including the invasion of Europe, and Spain in particular (which lead to the Spanish Inquisition, which was an attempt to rid Spain of its’ Islamic invaders), or the Battle of Tours where Charles The Hammer stopped the Islamic forces from invading France…

    One might get the idea that the Islam that was being spoken of at this convention was a very different Islam than the Islam which Mohammed himself authored and practiced, if one were to actually take the time to do a search for what is written about in the actual Qur’an itself… a version of Islam that overlooks the fact that mercy is only reserved for the followers of Islam itself, that peace is only wished upon the followers of Islam itself, that the favor of Allah is reserved only for those who pledge themselves to him and the advancement of his religion of hate and murder of anyone who does not follow Islam…

    One could get that idea very easily, if they actually knew what the Qur’an really said…